Special Report

Richest and Poorest School Districts

3. Piedmont City Unified School District, California
> Median household income:
> Student enrollment: 2,552
> State per pupil spending: $9,220
> District per pupil spending: $12,474

Compared to other wealthy school districts, Piedmont City Unified School District, outside San Francisco, does not rely heavily on local sources for funding. Nearly 39% of school budgets comes from state sources, lower than the national proportion but several times higher than the comparable shares in other wealthy school districts. Even though residents are some of the wealthiest in the nation and own some of the most valuable homes — the median home value is more than $1 million — the education expenditure is relatively low. Piedmont City spends $12,474 per pupil, higher than the national expenditure, but half as much as most other school districts on this list.

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2. Weston School District, Connecticut
> Median household income:
> Student enrollment: 2,479
> State per pupil spending: $16,631
> District per pupil spending: $20,636

Located in the affluent Fairfield County in Connecticut, a suburban region of New York City, Weston is one of the wealthiest school districts in the country, with a median annual household income in excess of $205,000 and a poverty rate of just 1.8%. By comparison, the national median income is $53,046 and the poverty rate is 15.4%. Home values are also very high in the area, with the typical home valued at $880,800. A large share of school funding comes from property taxes, and the high property values have resulted in a large share of school funding coming from local sources. An average of just 12.1% of the region’s school funding comes from state or federal sources. As is usually the case with wealthy school districts, educational attainment in Weston is extremely high. Nationally, an estimated 28.8% of adults have a at least bachelor’s degree. In Weston, 82.2% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, higher than in all but a handful of districts.

1. Scarsdale Union Free School District, New York
> Median household income:
> Student enrollment: 4,721
> State per pupil spending: $19,818
> District per pupil spending: $25,831

Households in the Scarsdale Union Free School District are the wealthiest in the nation, with a median annual income of $238,478, or 4.5 times greater than the comparable national median income of $53,046. Wealthy areas are frequently home to wealthy school districts largely because of the higher collected tax revenues locally. The district spends $17,772 per pupil annually on instruction alone, several times the national average instruction expenditure of $6,480. Scarsdale is located 24 miles from New York City, between the Bronx and Hutchinson Rivers. High-paying jobs in the metro area likely account for the high wages in the district.

Not only do prosperous communities frequently offer well-funded school districts, but also the healthy economic circumstances help improve education outcomes. Of the nearly 10,000 U.S. school districts reviewed, only Mountain Lakes Borough, New Jersey has a higher college attainment rate than Scarsdale, where 85.9% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree.

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